Parents sometimes feel like the most unlikely people in the world. But God thinks otherwise. As we prepare for our new series this upcoming weekend, here’s some encouragement from our youth ministry. Parents, we believe in you!
The Unlikely Life of a Parent by Tim Walker
The concept of “unlikely” is nothing new to parents, is it? Just think about it. As parents, we are constantly realizing we are unlikely people God uses in unlikely places to respond in unlikely ways. Let’s break that down (insert crazy beat, okay, maybe not):
We are unlikely. No matter how much we thought we knew about being a parent before we actually were one, there is nothing that makes a mom or dad feel unlikely than coming home with a newborn baby. Being a parent changes everything. We never hear a screaming baby in the store or a restaurant the same way again. We never look at a tired parent chasing a toddler the same way again. We never look at the parent of a teen standing there dazed and confused the same way again. Becoming a parent brings the reality that no matter how much we thought we knew, we realize it’s not as simple as we once thought.
There are times when we feel like the most ineffective parent, and then there are times when we get a sense of hope that maybe the future therapy bill of our children may not be as high as we feared it would be.
As much as parenting may seem like a roller coaster of a ride, God placed us in this role on purpose. He gave us the role to be our child’s mother, or our child’s father. Even though we may have considered ourselves an unlikely person to be a parent, or wondering since becoming one if we are as qualified for the job as we think we should be, God thinks we are. That’s why He entrusted our child to our care. The Bible is filled with examples of God using unlikely people—people who had counted themselves out, and people others counted out as well. But the more these unlikely people leaned into Him and made themselves available, the more God worked through them.
God uses us in unlikely places. It seems like there’s no more unlikely place to find God than cleaning up after a sick child in the middle of the night. Or waiting in a long line at an amusement park. Or driving the kids to practice or class. But God can use even the most mundane, ordinary, unlikely places in our lives to impact others. Sometimes it’s in the places we would least expect to find God that we run straight into Him.
But it isn’t just the physical places that seem unlikely for big things to happen. Sometimes life throws us curve balls and with little to no warning and we find ourselves in the midst of a job loss, an illness, or a divorce. It’s in these places that we wonder, “Can anything good come from here? Can this be used for anything bigger than just hurt and pain?” Fortunately, God has a reputation for showing up in the places we least expect Him to, to do the things we would least anticipate. After all, He chose a stable to make His appearance on Earth and a cross as a way to conquer death. Not exactly what we may have had in mind. But God isn’t limited by an unlikely situation or an unlikely place.
No matter how broken your home, no matter how financially messy your life, no matter how stressful your job, don’t count God out. He just may show up when you least expect Him. Look for Him.
God calls us to respond in unlikely ways. One of the more tricky things about parenting is, just when it seems like we have it figured out, our kids change, grow up and throw a wrench in our whole philosophy. We can never stay comfortable where we are for very long.
There will be times when we will best love our kids by providing boundaries and discipline, and there are times when we will best love our kids by extending grace in the midst of some big mistakes. Unfortunately, there is no formula or equation to figure out when to do what. Parenting keeps us on our toes—requiring us to grow and change in our parenting skills just as our kids grown and mature.
The one constant is our need to remember to love. At all times. At all costs. Sometimes that seems like too big a request. An unlikely response when our teenager has pushed every last button and challenged every last rule. But those are the times we can best demonstrate the heart God has for them—and for us too. Responding in love is a lesson worth learning. It may not feel natural. And it may not come easily. But it can be the beginning of you and your child better understanding the love God has lavished on us.
So just remember, even though you may feel like an unlikely candidate in an unlikely place to be the parent your teenager needs, God can use you just as you are, just where you are, to respond in unlikely ways.